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Friday, April 6, 2007

Vice President..of the Liars' Club

Can somebody please tell me, what is wrong with Dick Cheney? Is he really certifiably insane, as many have suggested, or just a pathological liar? Witness this proclamation yesterday, with Rush Limbaugh uncharacteristically playing straight man for this one:

“He [Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June...as I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq,” Cheney told the fawning Limbaugh on his radio program.

Now, never mind that there is absolutely no evidence of this, and that by all credible accounts Al-Zarqawi only aligned himself with Al-Qaeda forces after the 9/11 attacks, not before (Al-Zarqawi "was not then an al-Qaeda member but was the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents, according to several intelligence analysts" per the Washington Post). Never mind that he and Bin Laden appear to have had a strained relationship at best. Never mind that not one but two official reports-Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble's Pentagon report released in full Thursday, and the previously released findings of the 9/11 commission-have completely debunked that any type of cooperation in any form took place between the ruling powers of Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Never mind any of that. In Cheneyland, the truth is all just extraneous details.

So, what's going on here? Unlike George Bush, Dick Cheney is not a stupid man, or at least he wasn't. Is it possible that he has repeated this scenario and heard it repeated by enough schills that he has actually begun to believe his own lie? As tempting as it to brush off the veep as an untreated paranoid schizophrenic, I think there is just something more sinister going on here, and the answer can be found in this article by John Dean. Dean is talking about Tom DeLay here, but the parallels with Cheney are unmistakable. Read the part in article where the discussion centers around DeLay's propensity for repeating falsehoods that are very easily disproved. Why do that if it just makes you look at best delusional, or at worse pathologically dishonest? Because guys like DeLay and Cheney know their audience, and this is who they're playing to. Dick Cheney doesn't care if 70% of Americans know he is lying when he spins his Iraq-Al-Qaeda fantasy. He is playing to his base, the kind who he knows listen religiously to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and buy Tom DeLay's book (which has flopped miserably amongst the rest of us, btw). Dr. Altemeyer considers these people "authoritarian followers who would never doubt" their leader's account of what is going on, don't do any of their own fact-checking, and thus can be counted on to eat whatever slop the object of their adulation throws at them, no matter how foul or poisonous. As the good doctor notes, "Studies show that authoritarian leaders can say almost anything, and their followers will believe them."

Even bald-faced lies like this one. Nice job, Mr. V.P. You haven't even made a pretense of telling a convincing lie, but with an approval rating lower than Dubya's, I guess you don't have to. How pathetic, though, that the fawning approval of a bunch of mindless Elois is all you can achieve at this last stage of the game.

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